If you aren’t accustomed to eating well on your camping trips, then you (apparently) haven’t lived yet. We sit down with dirty gourmet, Nikki Fotheringham, and grill her about the merits of campfire cooking and the release of her new book: The Flaming Marshmallow’s Guide to Campfire Cooking.
What compelled you to write about campfire cooking?
I grew up in Africa, where the weather is pleasant and the bugs are few. As a result, cooking outside is something we do all year round. Of course, I grew up with generations of family recipes to cook on the fire as well as wealth of ideas from friends and neighbours. Being a good barbecue chef is a matter of extreme pride for most Africans and so I came armed with a large repertoire on my first ever North American camping trip.
What I was soon to discover is that gas barbecues have meant that most North Americans don’t have the knack of cooking on an open fire and are reduced to the sadness that is ramen and Kraft Dinner. I felt compelled to share the recipes that I had learned to make camping trips far more memorable. Cooking on campfires is easy and you don’t need a ton of stuff.
So what’s wrong with Kraft Dinner?
Nothing actually, if you are into orange. I think many dedicated outdoor enthusiasts feel like crappy meals are part of the camping experience. They bang on about weight and a lack of cooking skills and I can understand that perspective. But the truth is, you can eat really well when you’re playing in the dirt and you don’t have to pack everything including the kitchen sink.
In fact, this book is for those glorious adventurers who have to pack in their meals. You can eat delicious meals, with no special skills or equipment on your skiing, hiking, climbing, biking, paddling or riding trip.
But I don’t know how to cook…is the book still relevant for first-timers?
Well, you don’t need to be a chef to eat well at your campsite. As long as you can make a fire and manage a grill, you’re golden.
The recipes only have a few ingredients and take no special equipment or tools. We’ve also got menu plans for 1-5 days with shopping lists so the planning is all done for you. Everyone can cook, and eating delicious meals is a great way to fuel your fun.
What’s different about your book?
I love cookbooks – they are beautiful, glossy mixes of art and food that make you want to lick the page. Alas, campfire cookbooks are these tired old rags without pictures (what’s up with that?) They often require a roll of cookie or biscuit dough or canned soups. These things aren’t practical for longer hikes or serious outdoor adventure.
So you won’t be baking a cake mix in an orange peel here; this is all fresh food with beautiful pictures so you know what you’re in for. The recipes are tried and tested and are easy and practical for those rare adventurers who take their outdoors with a side of cojones.
Any favourite recipes?
My favorite recipes are the ones that seem out of place in the woods; like a three course meal replete with dessert that come from just a few ingredients.
I love making pizza: it’s so easy and it’s really delicious with the smoky undertones from the fire. Peach cobbler is another favorite and a welcome reprieve for those who aren’t into s’mores.
Why is bonfire cooking so damn delicious?
I think food cooked on fires is more delicious because you have to earn it. You have to carry in all the ingredients and build a fire to get there. But most importantly, its nature, — the Vitamin N that reduces stress, piques the taste buds and has us spending quality time with friends. Eating is never just about putting food in your mouth, its about atmosphere, company, setting and creating memories with friends.
Winter is approaching, so no one will be cooking outside. Or are they?
Well, winter camping is something you really should try – it’s a blast! Also, on a cold night, a blazing campfire is a beautiful thing. And let’s not forget the silly season; this little book makes the perfect stocking stuffer for the outdoor enthusiast.
Nikki Fotheringham is a green living expert and blogger specializing in environmentally-friendly building technologies, renewable energy and all things green. For more green living advice, check out Green Moxie.